As I start my journey back home to Florida, I shoot over to Memphis to partake of some great BBQ. When it comes to barbeque, there’s four distinct types: North Carolina, Texas, Kansas City and Memphis.
I stopped in at a little shop in Memphis that’s been serving up a great Memphis-style menu for 60 years.
Some locals told me I had to try The Bar-B-Q Shop, Home of the Dancing Pigs. It’s not on the main tourist drag of Beale Street but right in the heart of a residential area and is definitely a local favorite. That’s the type of place I always look for when traveling — a great restaurant known only to the locals.
The Bar-B-Q Shop's glazed ribs, topped with a dry rub, won first place this year at Memphis in May, one of the largest BBQ competitions in the country.
It sounded so good, I had to order my pork ribs glazed. Along with the ribs, I tried their beef brisket and pulled pork sandwich. I must confess that I’m not that much a fan of BBQ, but I ate until I couldn’t hold another bite. The food was everything I was told it would be. If you’re a BBQ fan, or even if you think you’re not, stop here next time you’re in Memphis and be prepared to pig out on some pig!
Next I drove down to Lafayette, LA, for some southern
soul food cooked up by Dwyer’s Café.
This place has been serving up great home cooked foods for decades, and it’s definitely a favorite among locals. You’ll find students, attorneys, judges and construction workers all sitting side by side at lunch enjoying the food here.
I opted for the “Meat and 3” buffet. You’ll find this in many southern home cooking places. You choose your main meat, plus three sides from a large selection. I tried the fried catfish, cornbread dressing, navy beans and yams. Again, the locals knew what they were talking about. The food was great home cooking. If you want a meal like mom or grandma used to make, then this is where you come in Lafayette.
My final stop, and definitely one of my favorites, was at a true “hole in the wall” along a road that cuts right through the industrial area.
It’s a concrete block building that you would zoom right by and never even notice if you weren’t looking for it. But I was looking for it, and even though my GPS had a hard time locating it, I got there just minutes before they opened their doors for lunch at 11 a.m. There was already a line waiting for those doors to open — a very good sign of a great place.
Bon Creole Lunch Counter was food nirvana. It was a food junkie’s paradise. You walk up to the counter and order your food. The entire kitchen is wide open and laid out behind the counter so you can see everything being made fresh to order.
I ordered the chicken and sausage gumbo and a fried seafood combo po’ boy sandwich with shrimp, crawfish, catfish and oysters on an entire loaf of French bread!
The gumbo was delicious, with big chunks of chicken and andouille sausage in a spicy broth served over white rice.
But the big hit was the po’ boy. Overflowing with the freshest seafood, this was a sandwich that any five-star restaurant could proudly serve. This was no ordinary sandwich, but one that you will remember for a long time. And I, for one, will make it my mission to get back to New Iberia, LA, to get my hands on another one as soon as possible.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the past few weeks as I’ve shared my culinary road trip with you. Next week I’ll be back and will be sharing some great recipes and tips with you that you can recreate in your home kitchens.
I want to thank all of you who emailed me these past few weeks to tell me of your trips to these same great restaurants I visited. A big shout out to a reader from Maine who wrote me as he was at the same I wrote about, eating his lobster and reading the article.